If I Tell You, There’s No Turning Back: My Bikram 30-Day Challenge Begins!

posted in: Day In The Life, Tips 21
From Wikipedia: "Spc. David Kocian from the PA National Guard's 28th Combat Aviation Brigade teaches a yoga class at Camp Adder, Iraq. The 21-year Army veteran began teaching yoga during the 28th CAB's mobilization when soldiers showed significant interest upon discovering he was an avid student of yoga."
From Wikipedia: “Spc. David Kocian from the PA National Guard’s 28th Combat Aviation Brigade teaches a yoga class at Camp Adder, Iraq. The 21-year Army veteran began teaching yoga during the 28th CAB’s mobilization when soldiers showed significant interest upon discovering he was an avid student of yoga.”


I have committed myself to doing a difficult thing. I didn’t want to say anything here until I had actually begun the thing because I suppose I needed a head start or something. Here goes, for accountability’s sake:

Today was Day 2 of my 30-Day Bikram yoga challenge.

Bikram yoga, for the uninitiated, is a 90-minute yoga class that takes place in a room heated to 105-degrees. There are 26 postures and two breathing exercises; you do everything twice. The room has mirrors at the front and side. Everyone basically wears slingshots and hotpants because within 60 seconds of practicing the yoga, you are positively drenched with sweat. To say something is “hard” is to make a qualitative, subjective statement, I realize. But Bikram yoga? S’hard.

If you’ve been reading this blog from way back, you know I used to be a real Bikram nut. Almost daily, you’d find me in the hot room. I once did 100 classes in 100 days straight just to prove I could do it. I also did it because there is nothing, nothing like the feeling you have when you finish a Bikram yoga class. Even the ones that almost kill you — especially those. And I believe that several of my surgeries went better because I was doing regular yoga. Who knows? It didn’t hurt.

So why did I stop? In the past eight years since I found Bikram yoga, I have ceased my practice twice.

The first time I stopped was because something really awful happened. It’s so awful that it’s hard to say it but I am so buoyed and encouraged by the past couple days’ post comments, I truly feel like I can do anything — and that nothing feels better than telling the truth.

The first time I stopped my practice was because my ostomy bag leaked in class.

Yep, I did hot yoga for a number years while I had my ostomy. (I talked about it a couple times including in this post.) It was a pain. I’d tape it up with athletic tape and the top of my shorts would come up over it and I got so I timed when I ate and when I practiced so that nothing would be, um, active during class.

But accidents happen. I was doing the spine series, which meant we were all on our respective bellies doing locust and cobra poses and things. Well, I had a leak. When I got up to flip around and do the next posture, I had leaked onto my towel and mat. It could have been so much worse. But it happened. I just quietly gathered my towel and held it against myself, grabbed my mat and gave the teacher a, “I’m okay, but I am leaving now” look — I still remember what teacher it was and where I was in the room — and I didn’t come back for a long time. Maybe a year?

It wasn’t just the leak. I was probably burned out, which means I was probably doing the yoga for the wrong reasons or something, I don’t know. But I was so tired of being afraid that my worst fear would come true that when it finally came true, I had an excuse to rest. I think that’s called “giving up” and you know what? Sometimes, we give up.

But not for good! I returned! I was once again sweaty and half-naked in public while I was living in NYC and it was good. But then everything got so sad and tumultuous with Yuri. I tried to practice when I got to D.C. but I just didn’t have it in me. This yoga is the best medicine for anything — heart, mind, head, body, all of it — but it takes commitment and determination. All I could commit or dedicate myself to in D.C. was trying to learn a new world and let go of Chicago. I’m thrilled I gave up on that one.

So why now? Because I miss myself.

I miss hanging out with the me that can stand on one leg in 105-degree heat as sweat pours from the top of her head down into her eyes. I miss seeing that girl in the mirror. I feel like I’ve been making choices lately that aren’t serving me at all: late nights, too much wine, stuff like that, and I feel bad and sad about that a lot lately. It’s gone on too long. Besides, my shoulder still hurts terribly bad and my knees, too. I’m a jalopy right now and Bikram yoga is a body shop. In 30 days, I’ll walk out of there looking and feeling like a Maserati. Trust me. I’ve done it before.

So, yes. Every day. Thirty days. I promise I will not write about yoga much. But I’m doing this. For me. And now there’s no turning back the cat’s officially outta the hot, sweaty, bag. Gross!

p.s. Is there a Bikram studio near you? Wanna do this with me?? Woah, that would be so cool!!! There could be prizes!

21 Responses

  1. Colleen
    | Reply

    Yes and no I am old and I don’t bend
    My 3 year old neighbor tried to have me sit cris cross apple sauce my body just can not
    do what it used to ……but I promise to read all about it and I am so glad you are getting
    back to this healthily activity

  2. Baa Goldfarb
    | Reply

    OMG you ARE powerful! Alas since I live in Florida stepping out the door in summer I get the whole sweat poring out my head into my eyeballs dripping wet routine just going from my house to my car. And getting this 58 yr old broken down body back up off the floor would be a major undertaking not to mention the logistics of getting down there to begin with. Nor would anyone want to be privy to any leaks eminating from my neither regions either usually brought on by laughing, sneezing, stretching, coughing, or just blinking my eyes. ( Ok maybe not blinking my eyes).
    So Mary darling I applaud you, you go girl, I’m behind you all the way. I’ll be the one sitting on the chair waving the slightly dampish towel cheering you on.

  3. Judy Forkner
    | Reply

    Friends have talked me into going to Bikram Yoga a couple of times (years ago). I don’t like the hot, sweaty, your legs are so slick from sweat you can’t hold onto them feeling at all. So I won’t be joining you–sorry!
    Maybe I’ll go back to the seated yoga class I used to take–I liked that one! Hmm–wonder if they still have it?
    Have fun–I hope it fixes all that ails you!

  4. Marianne ten Kate
    | Reply

    Vroom, vroom!

  5. Susan Skuda
    | Reply

    You never cease to amaze, Mary! I think I’ll go jump in th hot tub. That’s about as Bikram as it gets in my world!

  6. Ivy
    | Reply

    There are hot yoga studios in my hood, but I live in Florida, and we just finished an extended season of real-feel 101°-108° … outside … so I dunno. I *am* always cold inside so that is something to think about. Anyway, good luck, Mary! 🙂

  7. Mary Jane
    | Reply

    Go Mary! I love my Bikram practice and practice at least 4 times a week. The health and mental benefits keep me going back. At 57, I feel better than I have in years and wish I had discovered Bikram 20 years ago! My Bikram family is inspirational – all ages (more than a few 70+ years old) and practice levels. Enjoy your 30 day challenge!

  8. Krista
    | Reply

    I love Bikram! I started several years ago, where I practiced 3 days a week but stopped when other things in my life took priority. I’ve tried starting again a couple times, but it just wasn’t right. One of these days I’ll be back in there sweating.

  9. Denise in PA
    | Reply

    Good luck, Mary! Of course you can do it – and I’m rooting for you!

  10. H Diane Lewis
    | Reply

    You go, girlfriend! I will be 70 in March and was one of 13 to complete the Countdown to Change at YouFit. Now I am committed to a personal coach one day a week for the next three months. I loved Yoga. But, I can get down; getting back up, not so good.. You just have to keep moving. Enjoy!

  11. Britiney
    | Reply

    I know so many people who love this, and I’m so glad it’s a great fit for you! I do NOT do well in heat. I’m certain I’d pass out in 30.7 seconds. I may give other yoga a try, but I don’t think hot yoga is a fit for me. Can’t wait to hear about your success though! Go you!

  12. Sam
    | Reply

    You are an inspiration! I love Bikram yoga – so I’m thinking about it. Love your blog, love that you truly share your life with us, it makes you genuine.. You make me smile. I’m 64 and attend Bootcamp in my little town, staying active keeps us young. DO IT..

  13. Claire
    | Reply

    I like yoga, try to go to class twice a week and practice at home 5 days a week. But I can’t do the hot classes, I faint. Keep up the practice. The breathing and the postures help the mind/spirit part of you. Enjoy your 30 days,

  14. Ann
    | Reply

    I too have lapsed
    From my regular hot
    Yoga practice. I have not really figured out why. I live it. I hate it. I can’t get enough. But at the same time I can’t get
    To go. I m hoping soon I will find it inside me to care enough about myself
    To get back in there and challenge myself
    Than I ever
    Have before.

  15. Sarah
    | Reply

    If it works for you, then it’s a good choice. If it doesn’t work, don’t do it. Easy-peasy. Seems like you have learned that one already, so you’re ahead of the game. Keep on enriching your life and more power to you.

  16. Barbara
    | Reply

    I have never done yoga. My daughter gave me a gift certificate to take a yoga class, . . . hasn’t happened yet. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just never the right time. I have to be more like you Mary, and just do it. I don’t know what’s stopping me, the unknown, can my body do yoga, will I look silly. Mary you are such an inspiration to me, but please also don’t push yourself to do things your body doesn’t want to do. How about a gentle yoga in a nice cool room, that’s how I am going to start. Love ya, Mary.

  17. Pat Hicks
    | Reply

    Mary, you will never cease to amaze me. You go girl and do what you can. I tried regular yoga thinking it would help my back and neck problems. Made them worse. I will cheer you on from the sidelines. Did you ever say how you felt about your critique? God bless you and keep you strong!

  18. […] does today. This is not dress rehearsal! If I wait for the perfect time to go to grad school, do a 30-day yoga challenge (I’m on Day 11, by the way), or design a line of fabric, that time may never arrive. We […]

  19. Cathie Dawson
    | Reply

    Go Mary!
    I love love love hot yoga too!
    I too am taking a Vaca from the my classes due to an injury.
    I just started back at the gym to get stronger so I can get back to yoga.
    You are an inspiration! !! Keep up the good !

  20. […] I’m halfway through my 30-day yoga challenge! […]

  21. […] did it! Yesterday was Day 30 of my 30-Day Bikram yoga challenge. I did 30 classes in 30 days without skipping a single day. How about that. It took serious […]

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